Nicobar Sparrowhawk (Accipiter butleri)

Nicobar Sparrowhawk

[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Accipiter butleri | [authority] Gurney, 1898 | [UK] Nicobar Sparrowhawk | [FR] Epervier des Nicobar | [DE] Nikobarensperber | [ES] Gavilan de Nicobar | [NL] Nicobarenshikra


Monotypic species


Members of the genus Accipiter are small and medium-sized hawks, often called Sparrow-hawks or Goshawks. The females are almost invariably much larger than the males – in some cases weighing twice as much – a level of size dimorphism only exceptionally reached in any other genus Falconiformes. Their wings are short and rounded; the tail usually quite long. They are well adapted for flying through dense bush. Bird-catching Sparrow-hawks generally have long and slender legs, with slender digits, the middle one being especially long. Goshawks are usually larger, with shorter, thicker tarsi and digits and a shorter middle digit. Some smaller species have goshawk-like feet and vice versa, making it difficult on a world-wide basis to subdivide the genus on this or any other broad basis. Although many accipiters feed upon birds moreso than do other hawks, some species take many mammals, especially squirrels; others take lizards, frogs, snakes, insects, even snails. In these species the legs and digits are sometimes slender, but short. Accipiters are rarely crested, but some have very attractive colour patterns. Black phases are present, especially in the tropical species. One in Australia has the only pure white phase. Accipiter is the largest genus in the family, having about fifty species. It is present worldwide, but is especially rich in Papua-New Guinea, where a small island like New Britain may have three to five endemic species or distinct sub-species.

Physical charateristics

Medium-sized forest-dwelling hawk. Adult males have pale grey upperparts; dark primaries; dark sub-terminal band to the tail and pale underparts with rusty breast and flank barring. Females and immatures are rich rufous brown with 3-5 dark bands on the uppertail

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 28 cm size max.: 34 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 0   eggs min.: 0  
      eggs max.: 0  


Oriental Region : Nicobar Islands. Accipiter butleri is endemic to the Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal, India, where it is only known with certainty from Car Nicobar and Katchall. As many islands in the archipelago are poorly studied, it is possible that it is more widely distributed. There are no confirmed recent records, and there have been no population estimates


Apparently restricted to forested habitats whre it favors upperstorey and canopy.


Only one nest was ever found, 12 meter up a ficus tree. No further detail.

Feeding habits

There is very little information available about its breeding and feeding ecology. Lizards and insects have been recorded as food items.


This species qualifies as Vulnerable because it is estimated to have a small population which is suspected to be declining as a result of forest loss.
The primary threat to this species appears to be habitat loss and degradation, and this has accelerated since the arrival of migrants from mainland India in the late 1960s. Clearance for agriculture and development have increased and have exacerbated soil erosion problems. The impacts of the Tsunami in 2004, which destroyed significant areas of habitat across the islands, have not been investigated for this species. A moderate and on-going population decline is suspected on the basis of rates of habitat loss, but requires further documentation.
Nicobar Sparrowhawk status Vulnerable



Distribution map

Nicobar Sparrowhawk distribution range map

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